Confronted with the evermore critical migrant crisis in Europe, American officials have finally spoken. On Aug. 24 in Washington, the official statement said that the U.S. would accept between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2016.
Does the U.S. government know how many Syrian refugees there are currently? United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has said that by July this year, the number of Syrian refugees had already reached 4 million and that by the end of the year, the number could increase to 4.27 million.
Does the U.S. government realize how many refugees are risking their lives to sneak across the border into Europe? According to a report published by the European border management agency, in July of this year alone, 107,500 refugees arrived at Europe’s borders, while at least a few thousand have drowned at sea while trying to enter Europe illegally. As the country that instigated the chaos in the Middle East — content in another corner of the Atlantic Ocean — the U.S. actually pompously stated that in response to a request from the U.N. Refugee Agency, it will accept between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. Does America not find this hypocritical, shameful, or even disgraceful?
According to the European border management agency, there are three main routes into Europe used by the refugees fleeing the chaos of war. The first is via the Mediterranean passage into Italy, the second is via the eastern Mediterranean route into Greece, and the third is via the west Balkan route through Hungary. The majority of refugees using these routes are from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and some parts of North Africa.
Knowing which countries these refugees are coming from, surely, people know in their hearts what country should be footing the bill for this refugee crisis?
In 2003, hauling Britain along with it, the U.S. bypassed the U.N. Security Council and carried out unilateral military air strikes against Iraq. The deployment of troops occurred under the pretext that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction and was secretly supporting terrorists, when in actual fact, it was the U.S. seizing the opportunity to get rid of the anti-American regime of Saddam Hussein. Over more than seven years, American forces never found the so-called weapons of mass destruction. As a result of this war, they did, however, cause 162,000 Iraqi deaths — among those, close to 80 percent were civilian deaths — and several other millions of civilians were forced to become refugees. Those refugees fled to neighboring countries, Jordan and Syria, to seek asylum and unknowingly created asylum crises in those countries too.
In 2010, the political hurricane that was the Arab Spring hit Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria in quick succession. Wherever you went, civil unrest mounted, the violence became even more ferocious, and freedom was reduced. The U.S. was the driving force behind the Arab Spring, providing large amounts of resources and manpower; it spent many years utilizing the Internet, among other outlets, to encourage and facilitate the “Arab revolution.” The old system was overthrown by stirring the population, but again and again, the desired outcome failed: Regimes changed again and again, economies stagnated, prices skyrocketed, and people struggled to survive. And this is the reason that so many refugees from the Middle East and North Africa are fleeing to Europe.
Syria’s Assad regime is the only regime to survive the Arab Spring, but Syria hasn’t been able to avoid the calamity of civil war. The U.S., which wants to use any possible means to resist and overthrow Assad’s government, has gotten itself lost in the quagmire of internal conflicts within its chosen opposition faction — the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. However, contrary to American expectations, Syria’s continuing civil unrest has allowed the extremist group, the Islamic State, to seize the opportunity to expand. The U.S. is intent on establishing a “model of democracy in the Middle East,” something that has not at all been achieved and has just created yet another source of refugees. Since the 2011 eruption of the Syrian civil war, more than 4 million Syrian refugees have escaped abroad, but there are still 7.6 million of those remaining in Syria who are homeless and destitute.
Besides Europe, is there anywhere else for these refugees to seek asylum? Great numbers want to get to Europe to avoid the destruction of war. Looking at a map, Europe is just on the periphery; there, there is no need to spend all day terrified and on edge, no bombs falling from the sky, there is no need to starve, and at the very least, people are able to just live their lives.
Confronted with this surge in the tidal wave of refugees, shouldn’t America be doing some profound soul-searching? Does it still have any grounds to continue living easily on the other side of the ocean, watching the fires burn from the safety of its own shores? By only taking in 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees, the U.S. is way off the mark, and setting a 2016 deadline for receiving refugees just adds to the irony of Europe’s current refugee crisis! America needs to lose its mask of hypocrisy and genuinely take responsibility for the refugee crisis, and while taking practical steps to stabilize the situation in the Middle East, America really should provide some real money, make some space, and arrange a way to foot the bill for the resettlement of large numbers of refugees!